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LargeHadron
May 19, 2009

They say, "you mean it's just sounds?" thinking that for something to just be a sound is to be useless, whereas I love sounds just as they are, and I have no need for them to be anything more than what they are.


My wife and I adopted a kitten. She is about 6-7 months old, and she was caught by a trapper at around 4 months old. She is generally affectionate, but she communicates by biting ("I want to play," "Don't touch me there," "I'm an rear end in a top hat"), and we are determined to change this behavior. In fact it's critical, because my wife does not want our home to be scary for our nieces once things get back to normal and they're able to visit. Personally, I want the behavior to change because I'm uncomfortable in my own home. I can deal with the "don't touch me there" kinds of bites. If she doesn't want her space invaded, I can respect that. It's the unprovoked bites that I have trouble dealing with, emotionally. Too often I'll be minding my own business and then a cat will appear out of nowhere to bite my ankles/feet. Or she'll be rubbing up against my hands encouraging me to pet her, and then she'll make a quick strike out of the blue. I'm livid with her today, because last night I decided to take a chance and keep my feet out of the blanket because it was hot. Generally I stay under the blanket in order to protect myself, because I'm afraid she will bite me while I sleep. Well I didn't do that last night, and after I fell asleep she woke me up by biting my toe. This startled me, and when I jerked up I irritated a chronic injury in my shoulder (which I had just spent two weeks rehabilitating after the last time I irritated it). It took me forever to get back to sleep, because I was afraid she would do it again. Lo and behold, I'm awoken to a bite on the forearm around 5am. She bites my wife too, with the same frequency.

We've tried different strategies when she bites. Most resources tell us that she had not been conditioned by other kittens to learn that biting is not ok, so we need to give a quick, high-pitched "eek!" when she bites. This doesn't have any affect, and more often than not she will take a few more bites if you do this. I've been in the habit lately of giving a firm "no!" but this has not worked either. Wife tried hissing at her this morning and claimed it worked, but I doubt it's a long-term solution. When we're able, we will ignore her for ten minutes after a bite. Sometimes this doesn't make sense, such as when we are sleeping, because we would have been ignoring her anyways. I am hesitant about using a spray bottle, because I've read that this can make a cat fearful of you. The behaviorist at the adoption center we adopted her from agrees that a spray bottle is not a good idea. We try positive reinforcement when we can. If she acts like she is going to bite and then doesn't, we tell her she's a good kitty and whatnot.

As far as enrichment goes, she gets TONS of positive attention from us. We give her 6 15-minute play sessions a day using a wand toy ("Da Bird", or a ribbon snake) and sometimes a "Cat Dancer" or a laser pointer. Not waving it in front of her face like an idiot for 15 minutes. I mean focused play that allows her to simulate hunting/stalking. We do clicker training and have trained her to sit, touch a stick with her nose, and rub her face against our hands. She has tons of puzzle feeders and various other toys she can play with when we aren't playing with her. She has like four cat towers, and an entire three-story house she can run around in all day. We always give her an intense play session or two right before bed and also feed her her biggest meal at that time. We spoke to a behaviorist and her advice was basically everything we are already doing plus buy her a "kitty-kicker" (no effect).

When I have a bad day like last night/this morning, I just want to give up. If we took her back to the adoption center right now, I would feel mostly relief and only the tiniest bit of sadness. Help me deal with this biting problem so I don't hate my cat.

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inkajoo
Oct 4, 2015


Imagine you are a cat and react the way a senior cat would react to a misbehaving kitten. Don't pick it up, kick or swipe at it, as all could be interpreted as love/play. Just turn your head and shout angrily. That's how I've observed cats discipline rude kittens. If it persists maybe try to approximate some kind of "warning stance".

YeahTubaMike
Mar 24, 2005

*hic* Gotta finish thish . . .


Doctor Rope

Wow, are you me from a year & a half ago?

For the record, I haven't found any solution so I'm going to lurk the hell out of this thread.

LargeHadron
May 19, 2009

They say, "you mean it's just sounds?" thinking that for something to just be a sound is to be useless, whereas I love sounds just as they are, and I have no need for them to be anything more than what they are.


YeahTubaMike posted:

Wow, are you me from a year & a half ago?

For the record, I haven't found any solution so I'm going to lurk the hell out of this thread.

Talk to me about this. If youíre still having the same problem after a year and a half, that tells me itís unsolvable at some point. What have you tried?

YeahTubaMike
Mar 24, 2005

*hic* Gotta finish thish . . .


Doctor Rope

LargeHadron posted:

Talk to me about this. If youíre still having the same problem after a year and a half, that tells me itís unsolvable at some point. What have you tried?

I read somewhere that avoiding reaction was a good strategy, because if you reacted then the cat would react back as if you were prey...or something. When I say it here, it sounds stupid, but I was desperate.

I can't remember anything else I tried; I probably gave up too quickly.

LargeHadron
May 19, 2009

They say, "you mean it's just sounds?" thinking that for something to just be a sound is to be useless, whereas I love sounds just as they are, and I have no need for them to be anything more than what they are.


YeahTubaMike posted:

I read somewhere that avoiding reaction was a good strategy, because if you reacted then the cat would react back as if you were prey...or something. When I say it here, it sounds stupid, but I was desperate.

I can't remember anything else I tried; I probably gave up too quickly.

See, but that's how it goes. There's no consensus for this...for every source that says "don't react" you'll find the same number that say "make a quick loud sound," "hiss," "give a firm 'No!'", "squirt them with water," or "they'll grow out of it." It feels impossible to know which to settle on, and so far absolutely none of the "ignore her" and "make a sound at her" approaches have had any perceptible effect.

I suppose it's possible that there isn't a universal solution, and that each cat will respond to one strategy and not the others. Maybe our cat is one for whom a spray bottle is an appropriate deterrent. I don't know.

Haji
Nov 15, 2005

Haj Paj

I've successfully dealt with the unwanted biting/scratching thing. Loud exclaimation of unhappiness + shunning works very well. But it only works if you're achingly consistent. Any time the cat hurts you or is too rough, just yell/squeek/whatever, put the cat down and refuse to interact with it for a few minutes. The older the cat, the longer the training will take. Kittens learn this naturally as they grow. It sounds like your cat was just poorly socialized and so it didn't learn. It's not going to be fun but eventually if you're extremely consistent your cat will learn. It will also help to get your cat a companion that is ideally the same age/size. They'll teach each other that way. It will be a lot easier and less bloody for you.

Your cat is currently at peak rear end in a top hat kitten stage. All kittens are complete assholes at that age unless they have a buddy to blow off energy with. This is why people always say to get 2 kittens, not 1.

LargeHadron
May 19, 2009

They say, "you mean it's just sounds?" thinking that for something to just be a sound is to be useless, whereas I love sounds just as they are, and I have no need for them to be anything more than what they are.


Haji posted:

I've successfully dealt with the unwanted biting/scratching thing. Loud exclaimation of unhappiness + shunning works very well. But it only works if you're achingly consistent. Any time the cat hurts you or is too rough, just yell/squeek/whatever, put the cat down and refuse to interact with it for a few minutes. The older the cat, the longer the training will take. Kittens learn this naturally as they grow. It sounds like your cat was just poorly socialized and so it didn't learn. It's not going to be fun but eventually if you're extremely consistent your cat will learn. It will also help to get your cat a companion that is ideally the same age/size. They'll teach each other that way. It will be a lot easier and less bloody for you.

Your cat is currently at peak rear end in a top hat kitten stage. All kittens are complete assholes at that age unless they have a buddy to blow off energy with. This is why people always say to get 2 kittens, not 1.

Yeah, weíve realized she will be better with another cat, so weíre taking her back to the adoption center tomorrow. Theyíre really understanding of the situation. Itís been a rough few weeks. Lots and lots of biting...even getting bitten while weíre sleeping.

Itís nice to hear that you were able to get past it with your cat. I really hope ours overcomes it and someone is able to give her a good life.

Haji
Nov 15, 2005

Haj Paj

It's pretty normal behavior for solitary kittens of that age. As for me, I've been through it a few times. Between the pet kitties I've had in my life and the kittens I've fostered, it's just a thing. I'm sorry it turned out to be too much for you. If you adopt a cat that's 2 years or older, you can completely bypass the entire issue. That might be best if you're looking for a solitary cat. All the cuddles, none of the attitude.

LargeHadron
May 19, 2009

They say, "you mean it's just sounds?" thinking that for something to just be a sound is to be useless, whereas I love sounds just as they are, and I have no need for them to be anything more than what they are.


Haji posted:

It's pretty normal behavior for solitary kittens of that age. As for me, I've been through it a few times. Between the pet kitties I've had in my life and the kittens I've fostered, it's just a thing. I'm sorry it turned out to be too much for you. If you adopt a cat that's 2 years or older, you can completely bypass the entire issue. That might be best if you're looking for a solitary cat. All the cuddles, none of the attitude.

Thanks...our plan right now is to somehow get our old cat back from my wifeís parents. She is 13 years old and very sweet.

Does anyone have a recommendation for getting a cat from Los Angeles to Chicago? Itís so tough during a pandemic. We donít want to fly and risk infecting ourselves and/or her family. Her dad offered to drive but itís kind of the same problem there. Shipping seems problematic too...apparently itís bad to send a cat via airplane (I havenít researched this, but my wife says itís bad for the animalís physical and mental well-being), and sending via a ground carrier service seems equally problematic, and possibly worse because it takes longer. Not sure what the right thing to do is, but my wife is gonna go nuts if she doesnít get another cat soon.

mistaya
Oct 18, 2006

Cat of Wealth and Taste


Are there any older cats available (like 3+ years old) on petfinder in your area? Bitey-rear end in a top hat-kitten phase is totally done with by then and you have a much better idea of the adult cat's personality. It sounds like you need an adult cat who's pretty chill and just wants to hang out.

I would advise against trying to transport your previous cat, way too dangerous with Covid doing it's thing right now.

LargeHadron
May 19, 2009

They say, "you mean it's just sounds?" thinking that for something to just be a sound is to be useless, whereas I love sounds just as they are, and I have no need for them to be anything more than what they are.


mistaya posted:

I would advise against trying to transport your previous cat, way too dangerous with Covid doing it's thing right now.

drat, so thereís no way to do it safely? My wife and I are very covid-conscious and pretty much follow guidelines to the T, so if thereís no safe way to do it, we might end up not doing it. And that sucks because sheís in really bad sorts and needs a cat right now. Maybe we can talk about adopting an older cat...sheís not going to be happy about this, because she really wants to give our old cat a better life during her later years.

We returned the kitten a few hours ago and it was very sad. I broke down saying goodbye to her, and we are both sad to be back home with all of her stuff still scattered around. The behaviorist at the adoption center is going to do everything she can to train her, so thatís nice at least.

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Haji
Nov 15, 2005

Haj Paj

Wow. That's really awful. I'm sorry. If it were me, I'd just do the drive. Make sure to put a harness on the cat, get a smaller litterbox that's made for the floor of the backseat and drive like a freaking madman. You could probably manage 3 days there, 3 days back without killing yourself. Or you could get a personal compartment on the train so you don't have to share breathing space with anyone. Safer than flying, easier than driving.

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